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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misses the mark--a major disappointment, February 2, 2008
This review is from: The Future of Management (Hardcover)
There is an old Arab proverb: "He who speaks about the future lies even when he tells the truth".
The author makes some good points, particularly when discussing the corrosive affect of calcified corporate cultures on employee morale. But he extends his examples of Google, WL Gore and Whole Foods too far. What works for them might not work for other companies. He never makes this distinction (nor tells the reader how to identify it) and he falls into the trap of missing the difference between cause and effect (see the excellent book "The Halo Effect" to learn more about this all too common tendency amongst business management authors).
He gives some good examples of how technology can break down barriers inside of a company, such as internet enabled 'predictive markets' and their ability to help with m&a strategy. But then he goes on to suggest that company sponsored blogs where employees can vent their feelings about their employer (anonymously) might make for a healthier, more innovative workplace. Perhaps I am missing something, but I don't think this would go over too well in most workplaces.
But the real reason I can give only one star is that he never mentions the impact of different cultures on management styles. This is a gross oversight. What works in the US might not work in China, Brazil or India. I was surprised that someone writing a book with the bold title "The Future of Management" could completely overlook such an important topic, especially when our economy is becoming much more global. I would strongly suggest caution if one were to implement some of his strategies.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 21, 2008 10:55:05 AM PST
I respectfully disagree. The book may be somewhat unevenly written, and some of the practices used at Gore, Whole Foods and Google may be hard to implement (or even unnecessary - there are simpler and better methods), but Hamel and Breen simply want to show the general direction for management innovation. Whether or not some of their suggestions suffer from the "Halo Effect" (I read that excellent book, too) is not pertinent here because, again, the crux of the book is in tracing the common sense vector of development in management. The point about different cultures is seemingly more plausible, but it is not really. I am Russian with Canadian passport living in the American South. While behaviors of people differ significantly from region to region, they all want freedom of expression and creativity at work and elsewhere. This is in our genes. Even those who at first don't believe they want all that liberty, want it once they tasted it. I happened to live through experiences when my subordinates at first didn't know what to make of their newfound freedoms. But they adjusted quickly and the boost to productivity and innovation was vast and profound. As far as I understand Hamel and Breen' s book, this is what they advocate for. Tell me if I am wrong (Or right:-). andrei@corruptionmanagement.com

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2010 7:27:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2010 7:28:59 PM PST
JLMK says:
I echo your sentiments. The whole "tailor this to a unique culture" thing is just a bunch of malarkey. I recall many years ago (this was before the fall of communism) when it was often argued that some countries were socialist or communist, because this was just congruent with their cultures, and that capitalism in those countries would be a "foreign" thing. This rubbish was even suggested that countries like China couldn't embrace capitalism, etc., because their culture supported communal ownership of property, etc., etc.

You still hear this same nonsense when people say that, for instance, women in some Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia for example, really don't mind having all those freedoms suppressed because that's all they've known all their lives, etc., etc. Or that countries where corruption is rampant are really that way because the people are naturally dishonest, etc., etc. They never realize that some of the western countries, the US for example, have also had episodes where women's rights were not that great (see Thaddeus Russell, "A History of the United States"), or when corruption seemed to be deeply etched in American DNA (see any biography of Theodore Roosevelt, or Tammany Hall).

So my point is that this whole thing of tailoring management theory to culture is hog wash. People universally want to be treated with respect (Golden Rule), want to feel that they are contributing to a company's bottom line (empowerment), don't want to be harassed by their bosses, etc., etc. It's the same everywhere.
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